Tottenham Hotspur Friendly in Malaysia Sells Only 19,000 Tickets After Fan Protest

May 26, 2015

By Christian Radnedge

Tottenham Hotspur’s hopes of spurring on growth in Asia with a friendly against a Malaysian XI on Wednesday were dealt a blow as it was revealed that only 19,000 tickets had been sold out of 80,000. 

A fan group, called Ultras Malaya, criticised the match and an upcoming Liverpool friendly calling them “circus matches”. They argue that the games unfairly disrupt their domestic league and also distract from the national team’s preparations for upcoming World Cup qualifiers. 

Chelsea and Arsenal have both played at the Shah Alam Stadium in recent years, attracting vast numbers of fans inside the 80,372 arena which is home to Selangor who play in Malaysia’s Super League.

However, the Ultras Malaya argue that they have not felt any benefit from these exhibition matches. Premier League clubs often see the Asian market as a key area of growth in terms of brand awareness and sponsorship.

The ProEvents Group chief executive officer Julian Kam told the Malaysian news agency Bernama: “I hope we will reach 30,000 by tomorrow. It will be a very entertaining game for the fans to enjoy the moments.”

“The tourists will not just spend on the game, they will spend for the hotel, food and transportation, which is good for the country.”

Spurs players arrived in Malaysia on Tuesday following the conclusion of the 2014-15 Premier League season on Sunday. 

But last month Alfadli Awaludin, a senior member of the Ultras Malaya supporters group, said the Premier League giants would be better off simply facing each other rather than disrupting local football.

“It is not that we hate Liverpool coming, Spurs, Arsenal or even Manchester, Barcelona whoever coming, we don’t hate them, its just the concept is not right,” he told Reuters.

“The timing. We should be focused more on the more important games like the World Cup qualifying. Why do we need to focus on something that does not give us benefits at all?

“Just imagine we are playing Spurs and three of our players are injured, what would happens in World Cup qualifying?”

The campaign to boycott the friendlies were promoted on Twitter using the hashtag #SayNoToCircusGame.

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